Sunday, October 19, 2008

Review: Giro Filter – New Sunglass Release from the Cycling Masters

For someone who specializes in cycling products, it’s not surprising that Giro has a few excellent sunglass models for just that.  Even though they’ve only been in the game for a year they are already becoming industry leaders in innovation in the sports sunglasses area.  The first example of this is their agreement with Carl Zeiss to use Zeiss lenses for their very first range of models.  

Their latest release, coming out in October, continues this innovation and the model is called Filter.  Using something called PopTop technology, the lenses are removed quickly and smoothly.  This system involves rotating a hinge built into the frame, which releases the lenses without having to actually pull on them.  This removes the problem of getting finger prints all over the lenses and is just simply really cool.  The hinge is so smooth and it has sort of a snap to it.

Technology in action

My excellent camera

Frames: The frames are made of TR-90, a kind of flexible plastic.  The shape is 7-base, and the fitting around my eyes is near perfect.  There are not open spots on the sides or top to let sunlight in.  The ends of the temples have a good size strip of rubber which keeps them securely in place.  The only thing I would have to complain about the frame is just that there is a lot of it.   

Features: Obviously the PopTop technology sticks way out.  Some other brands (Smith is one I know of) have some sort of system for getting the lenses out (aside from directly pulling them out), but this is by the slickest and smoothest.  On the way out the lenses got a little stuck a few times, but you get used to the system quite easily.                                                           

Testing: Much like the Havik, the Filter lives up to expectations (and price).  I wore them while doing a long biking session and had no problems with slipping, fogging or discomfort.  The only issue I have is changing the lenses.  The PopTop technology obviously is very slick and smooth, but the spare lenses were only provided in a plastic bag, so storing them is quite tedious, as I would have to take the box everywhere I go, and that is not going to happen.  Also, I’m not going to shove two Carl Zeiss lenses randomly into my pocket because I would worry about them getting scratched.  So changing the lenses isn’t as quick as it should be.  Perhaps if there was a slot for the lenses in a hard case, then it would be quicker.  It took me about a minute to change them.   

Packaging: They came in a flip-up paper box.  Inside the box contained the extra lenses and the micro-fibre bag carried the sunglasses.  Also included were the instruction booklet and a booklet about Carl Zeiss lenses.   

Cost: Filter retails for about $160 - $180.  The model I have is $180.   

Conclusion: Giro takes their sunglasses line a step up with Filter, no doubt.  They are getting into new realms with their focus on innovation and technology like some other brands used to.  The quality is excellent and the finished product is quite polished.  Having Carl Zeiss lenses and a spare pair of clear lenses added for good measure is simply amazing.  When you need to switch to the clear lenses, they are there waiting.  On the negative side, the required space to put the PopTop technology into the frame means there is just a lot of frame, which some people commented diminishes from the overall look of it, but I myself didn’t see it.  It’s all personal preference.  Also, there is still no hard case with them, so there’s no real way to store them unless you are going straight from your door to the bike.  Finally, there could be a better way of storing the spare lenses.  A soft pouch might work, because the plastic bag that came with them means they could rub up against each other and scratch.  Overall, this is an excellent pair of shades and I would recommend them to anyone.   

Rating: 9.2571   

Note: I have been informed that the product I've looked at was pre-production and the final product will include not only a hard case but also a pouch for the lenses.  This basically clears up all of the negatives I had towards Filter and creates a really complete product. Oct  29, 2008.


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